I create detailed medical forms for my company, which require frequent updates. I name all form fields, checkboxes, and radio buttons and set the tab order. After making updates to a form, however, the tab order always re-shuffles. In particular, any radio buttons (and sometimes checkboxes and signature fields) drop to the bottom of the tab order list. Fixing the tab order after each form revision is a tediousness time suck.
Does anyone have a suggestion / plug-in to avoid this going forward? I appreciate the help!
Just wanted to confirm that all this is done in InDesign? Does Acrobat play a role in your process at all?
That's correct Michael. I set up all form fields and the tab order within InDesign. The final output is an interactive PDF.
Once you complete the form in InDesign, it would be easier to set the tab order in Acrobat. Acrobat has much more robust forms features than InDesign has.
Hi Barbara -- Thanks for your response. If I were to setup the form within Acrobat, wouldn't I need to redo that work (adding form fields and/or specifying tab order) after each time I generate an updated PDF from InDesign?
(Sorry, I don't think I made the current workflow clear in my initial post: My working file is an InDesign document. All edits are made within that file. I currently setup all form fields/functions within InDesign as well. Then the final output is an exported interactive PDF.)
If I were to setup the form within Acrobat, wouldn't I need to redo that work (adding form fields and/or specifying tab order) after each time I generate an updated PDF from InDesign?By @Meredith0404
That's correct, @Meredith0404. You'd have to rebuild the form parts each time you edited the PDF Form file. There are some tricks to make it a tad easier, but it's still a lousy, time-consuming workflow.
In your InDesign layout, are you controlling your reading orders? If so, which tools and techniques are you using to do that?
Ah, I think you may be on to something here. I have been anchoring checkboxes and radio buttons but not form fields. Therefore, the form fields are getting stacked on top in the layers panel order. That (I believe) explains why those get read first and the radio + checkboxes move to the bottom of the tab order after I make changes to the file. (To answer your other question, the text frames are threaded.)
It just so happens, I have a few forms that require editing this week. I'll see if anchoring the form fields nips the issue and let you know the result.
Thank you all for your input!
@Meredith0404 Let us know how they come out. Improved? Perfect? No change at all?
Helps us share the knowledge.
I'm not suggesting to set up the form in Acrobat. Once the InDesign file is saved as PDF, the form field order can be set in Acrobat. These are the choices in Acrobat
Once you complete the form in InDesign, it would be easier to set the tab order in Acrobat. Acrobat has much more robust forms features than InDesign has.By @Barbara Ash
Nah. Disagree 100% with that!
I'm a professional forms designer and teach forms classes in all sorts of programs. I'm also an InDesign expert and designer, as well as an accessibililty expert.
Right now, InDesign has the easiest and most succefful form design tools.
But, to each his/her own tools! So use what you have and know.
Thank you for weighing in Bevi. Given your heavy experience with forms via InDesign, have you experienced the same issue I've described? Any suggestions for a rememdy to form fields reshuffling?
Ha, we must have been typing at the same time Bevi. You can ignore this post. I just saw your other response.
@Meredith0404 wrote above: I create detailed medical forms for my company, which require frequent updates. I name all form fields, checkboxes, and radio buttons and set the tab order. After making updates to a form, however, the tab order always re-shuffles.
Yes. It has to do with how the InDesign form was created. Every time you export, you're back to what InDesign has as the various reading orders (RO) for the PDF.
Keep in mind that a PDF has 4 ROs:
The more you control in InDesign, the better. (See previous post) Stacking order in the Layers panel is a big factor.
One more item that controls the RO is the Articles Panel. It's not required to control any of the ROs, but it can affect the tag and architectural ROs. So try using the Aticles Panel at the end of your workflow, just before exporting the PDF.
Also, make sure you're selecting the option to use the Tag tree for the TAB RO: it's a checkbox in InDesign's export dialogue.
So much good info -- thanks Bevi!